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Indecent Exposure Law in California - Penal Code 314 PC

The Crime of Indecent Exposure – Penal Code 314 PC

California Penal Code 314 PC defines the sex crime of “indecent exposure.” This statute prohibits willfully exposing your private parts in a public place in the presence of another person who might be annoyed or offended.

California Indecent Exposure Law – Penal Code 314 PC
California's indecent exposure law makes it a crime to willfully expose your genitals for sexual gratification.

The act must be done in a manner that the defendant had intent to draw public attention to their genitals for sexual gratification or to offend another person.

This means “intent” is the most crucial factor in a PC 314 offense. If you were to expose your genitals in public that is out of view of other people, then this conduct is not sufficient for an indecent exposure prosecution under California law.

In most cases, Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure is:

  • A misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in county jail, and a fine up to $1,000.
  • A second offense could be charged as a felony crime punishable by time in a California state prison.

An indecent exposure conviction also will require a defendant to register as a Tier one California sex offender.

To give readers more detailed information about the California sex crime of indecent exposure defined under PC 314, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a PC 314 Conviction?

It's important to note that a violation of Penal Code 314 PC must be willful. This means any unintentional exposure of someone's genitals in public are exempted under law.

In order to convict someone of violating PC 314, the prosecutor has to prove all the factors of the offense, which are commonly known as “elements of the crime:”

  • You willfully exposed your genitals
  • Your act was in the presence of someone who could be annoyed or offended
  • You had intent to draw public attention to your genitals for the purpose of;
  • Sexual gratification of yourself or another person, or
  • To sexually offend another person

The genitals under PC 314 must be either male or female genitals fully exposed, not other parts of the naked body. Female breasts or exposing underwear don't qualify for prosecution.

Let's take a closer look at the elements of the crime for Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure below.

In the presence of another person who could be annoyed or offended

The genitals must be exposed in public in the presence of another person who might be annoyed or offended.

This is obviously an objective standard, but a PC 314 charge can be proven if a reasonable person in the victim's position would have been annoyed or offended.

It should be noted that even in a situation where you may have exposed yourself to an undercover police officer, you can still be convicted of PC 314 indecent exposure.

Intent to direct public attention to your genitals

What the Prosecutor Must Prove for a Penal Code 314 conviction
A PC 314 conviction requires proving you had intent to direct public attention to your genitals.

A California Penal Code 314 PC conviction also requires that you had intent to draw public attention to your genitals.

Simply exposing your genitals isn't enough for a prosecution, rather it must be done in a manner with intent to draw attention to them.

The defendant has satisfied this element even if nobody actually saw them, but there was intent.

Purpose of sexual gratification or sexual offending

The prosecutor has to also prove the intentional drawing of attention to your genitals was for the purpose of either sexual gratification or to offend another person sexually. 

This final intent can often be difficult to prove. Clearly, someone pulling a prank of “mooning” a passing car typically lacks the sexual intent need to prosecute.

Normally, a prosecutor will attempt to prove this element circumstantially that most exposures of genitals in a public place have some connection to sexual desires.

What are the Related California Offenses for PC 314?

  • Penal Code 288 PC – lewd conduct with a minor
  • Penal Code 647(a) PC – lewd conduct in public
  • Penal Code 647(b) PC – solicitation of prostitution
  • Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace
  • Penal Code 602 PC - trespassing

What are the Penalties for a PC 314 Indecent Exposure Conviction?

As stated above, the penalties for a first-time misdemeanor conviction for Penal Code 314 PC include:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine up to $1,000
  • A 10-year minimum registration as a sex offender under PC 290

Aggravated indecent exposure

You could face an aggravated indecent exposure charge if:

  • You expose yourself in an inhabited dwelling place, and
  • You entered the dwelling place without permission.

This type of Penal Code 314 PC violation is another California “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense.

If you are convicted of a felony indecent exposure, the penalties include:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state prison
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Mandatory registration as a sex offender (Penal Code 290 PC)

Repeat offenders of PC 314 indecent exposure

You will face an automatic felony charge for PC 314 indecent exposure if:

  • You have a Penal Code 314 PC conviction for a second or more time, or
  • Have a prior conviction for Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a minor

A second or subsequent conviction for indecent exposure is not a wobbler which can be reduced to a misdemeanor.

How Can I Fight PC 314 Indecent Exposure Charges?

There are several legal defenses available to our Los Angeles criminal lawyers if you were charged with California Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure, including:

Fighting Penal Code 314 PC Indecent Exposure Charges
Our criminal lawyers can use several strategies to fight your PC 314 indecent exposure charges.
  • Exposure didn't occur in the presence of other people
  • Exposure of genitals wasn't willful or lewd
  • Lack of intent to satisfy sexual gratification
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Mistaken identity
  • False allegation

Perhaps we could make a reasonable argument there is insufficient evidence for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction.

We might be able to show there was nobody around for you to offend or your genitals were partially covered.

It might also be possible to argue the allegations against you are false. Perhaps the accuser was motivated by anger or jealously.

If you or a family member is under investigation, or already charged with a violation of California Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure, contact our experienced team of Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers for an initial consultation.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067.

Our main office is adjacent to the Van Nuys Superior Courthouse at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact our office at (877) 781-1570.

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